There is nothing more magical than finding yourself engrossed in a wonderful book filled with magical creatures, horror, fairies, demons, vampires and werewolves. As a teen some of these stories seem to be awfully frightening, yet absolutely captivating. It transports you to a world of escapism from the normal mundane life of being a teenager.
My experience with books was prodigious. As I grew up, I, now, realise, that my world of books saved me as a teen – whenever I was depressed, or felt down, alone in a corner with no one to call my friend, I knew that I could go home, and I would find a host of friends within my stack of books that I picked up from the travelling library. That is where I would stay for the rest of the day.
Books were my salvation – my escape to a place where I was safe and able to live out the person I was feeling deep inside – the romantic who wished I could find my dark prince who would woo me and sweep me off my feet, ready to save me from the pain I had to endure during my day at school; or the strong female character that wouldn’t allow anyone to stand in her way and who was strong enough to stand up for herself.
Teens are still trying to find out who they are and where their place in this world will be. Books, especially escapism books such as fantasy books, brings us romance and character personalities with who teens can identify.
Through books and the beautifully crafted strong characters, I have found, one thing that stands out – they are determined, and fight for what they want in life. Books have the ability to help you recognise that if you wanted anything in life, you must fight for it.
And that is why there is such a connection to young adult (YA) and New Adult (NA) books – they speak directly to the heart of teenagers, and even older readers.
There’s no question whether this market has skyrocketed and the audience for these types of books are ready to indulge themselves in anything that might transport them to another place. There simply is no steady growth with the YA market – it has already exploded.
But, with that, the readers have become more demanding, the market has become tougher and, therefore, writers are expected to know more about their target markets – if they miss the mark, they simply won’t get the YA reader ‘on their side’.
So, the question is, what is the key to writing a successful YA novel? It isn’t that simple, but if writers delve deep into their past, and feel what they felt when they, too, were young, then they could bring to life a world that makes sense to any teenager who picks up their book. In a way, having a tough teenage life could even have been the best thing that has ever happened to me as a writer! It has formed me, and given me a greater understanding into the psyche of what teenagers feel when they are in love with a boy or a girl, but the love isn’t reciprocated; it makes me understand how it feels to be the outcast; it makes me know just how insecure one can be about oneself – I’m not pretty, skinny, or curvy enough, or I have braces, my hair is ugly or I’m not popular enough. Having experienced these things makes a writer of YA books indispensable.
When you’re young, everything you feel is much deeper and much more intense. Song lyrics speak to you in a way a grown-up could never understand – because, face it, grown-ups don’t understand – they forget how it was to be there and feel pain, hurt and exhilaration so intensely.
As a teenager you will meet your first love, and you will experience your first heartbreak, you will make bad decisions, and you will be betrayed by those you trust the most. These are all things that we all have been through, and what all teenagers are now experiencing.
They have to find ways to make important decisions and deal with the consequences if their decisions were wrong. When they look around them, they all believe that they are the only ones who feel this way, but what they don’t know, is that every other teen around them have to go through the same things, and everyone will make a different decision to the tales of their own lives, which will shape who they ultimately become.